The secret, simple genius of Australian democracy

The secret, simple genius of Australian democracy, an editorial by The Australian newspaper.

The secret ballot, first used in Victoria and South Australia in 1856, is known universally as the Australian ballot. …

Trying to put a Trump or Brexit narrative on the return of the Morrison government mulishly misses the point of the people’s verdict and the temper of the times. Voters aren’t angry about life here because they know in their hearts they’re lucky to have a stake in a great nation, a place they’d never trade for elsewhere. Whingeing is what other countries do. Bill Shorten misread this basic point. …

Labor took what it thought was a reasonable risk, believing it could use a model of micro-targeted vote-buying to get many more votes than it lost. By taxing heavily those groups that vote for the Coalition — high earners, small business owners, self-funded retirees and investors — Mr Shorten thought Labor could drop more money into the pockets of the unemployed, pensioners, low-paid workers and students. But to justify this rank switcheroo, Mr Shorten demonised the first set of voters and stoked entitlement and envy among the second. …

People in their 30s or 40s looked at their retired parents — providing free childcare to grandchildren and helping with home loans — and could not recognise in their parents the “greedy” hands of Mr Shorten’s class-war rhetoric. They resented Labor’s characterisation of their dream to own a home, save for retirement and be like their folks as materialist, small and unworthy, maybe even a bit ugly, straight and traditional. In trying to argue things were crook, Labor sneered at normality. …

Mr Shorten is not a radical at heart but he embraced a negative, nasty plan that suburban Australia would not swallow. It was straight out of the conflict-ridden past, with a hint of anti-religious snarl thrown in. Bob Hawke, Labor’s most successful prime minister, may have been from that era by birth but he changed the conversation and modernised the country. Shorten Labor recklessly reprised class war, anti-market rhetoric, redistribution and big government. This is Australia in sepia, clueless, in defeat. Labor disowned its proudest legacy by insisting on a story of national failure.

I think they have it about right.